The death toll due to Nipah virus reached to 14 with the death of 22-year-old Abin, who was admitted to a private hospital in Kozhikode with the infection.
Two more Nipah-infected people are undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit of the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital.
A majority of the deaths have been reported from Kozhikode in Kerala, while the others from nearby Malappuram district. Out of the 14 deaths, 11 have been reported from Kozhikode and three from Malappuram.
State health authorities claim things are under control and the Union Health Ministry maintains virus outbreak is a localised occurrence and there is no need to panic, fear runs high across the country.
Nipah virus may not have spread beyond Kerala but its scare has spread across the country with several states investigating suspicious cases and issuing advisories on precautions and travel to Kerala.
Various state governments have issued directives and advisories and have urged people to take immediate measures in case they experience symptoms of the virus, and refrain from travelling to Kerala.
Earlier, tests had ruled out bats being behind the spread of the Nipah virus in Kerala’s Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.
A total of 21 samples from bats and pigs were sent to the High Security Animal Diseases laboratory at Bhopal but all turned out negative according to the results, officials had said.
Close to 200 patients from Kozhikode and Malappuram are being treated in hospitals, with 26 under observation and three who have tested positive under intensive treatment.
Meanwhile, five medical professionals have been sent to Delhi for an intensive course at the Safdarjung Hospital there to learn the treatment protocols to be followed in such cases.
Nipah virus symptoms are not specific and include flu-like illness and hence can be confused with any respiratory illness.
Nipah was first detected in Malaysia in 1998, followed by Bangladesh in 2001 and annual outbreaks have occurred in that country since, with the disease also occurring periodically in eastern India, making it the third country.
The fourth country reporting Nipah virus infection is the Philippines.
The natural host of the virus are fruit bats. Human infections can result from contacts with infected pigs. Humans become infected with Nipah as a result of consuming food products contaminated by secretions of infected fruit bats.
In some cases human-to-human transmission has also been documented.